Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of CivCraft.
Well, I’ve developed software and games for the past 15 years or so, and always liked creating video games. I’ve played many games since I was a kid, and like both casual and non casual games. I’ve had many roles in the development of CivCraft, the first one being the designer and inventor of the concept. Along with Arik, who is an excellent developer and a great FPS gamer, we came up with the idea of combining two popular elements, then strap them on an open sandbox environment, and since then we’re involved in every aspect of CivCraft, from designing to programming, and even helping with graphics and game play effects. Although I’ve worked on several other projects, CivCraft is the most interesting project I’ve had the pleasure to work on.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I started developing PC games as a hobby even before graduating school. Although it was more complex and demanding than general software engineering, I was always drawn to developing PC games. I mean, let’s face it, it’s creative and fun, and has many artistic elements. I started developing PC games as a hobby around when I was working on real-time software engines, and that hobby slowly turned into a profession. Today I’m glad I made that decision.
Where did the idea for CivCraft come from?
The idea of CivCraft actually started in a restaurant. Me and Arik were working on a project, and went for lunch. Casually, we discussed about video games, and started talking about what would be the perfect game. After a short while, we realized that this concept is doable and practical, and most of all, it would be a great game play. Since then, our life’s project became to create and publish CivCraft as a one of a kind game.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing CivCraft?
As with any Indie development company, we have had many failures and successes. My biggest lesson from them is to always be prepared, plan ahead, and learn from mistakes.
In its current form, how close is CivCraft to your initial vision?
CivCraft is designed to be simple and fun, but still places you in an immense open world where you can do as you please. This is our main vision, and as we say, is carved in stone. Although we’ve made some improvements in the menus and the game play, CivCraft initial vision remained the same.
Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for CivCraft and if you faced a similar challenge.
Yes, we faced similar challenges, and as we’re developing CivCraft, we’re still changing difficulty levels and even are changing the game. However, our biggest advantage was that we designed the concept, the difficulty, the weapons and the characters before we even started developing CivCraft. Moreover, we made the game’s difficulty level changeable during the game play, and your environment is responsive depending on how you play the game. I don’t think CivCraft will be frustrating for anyone, except for when playing against expert gamers in multiplayer.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring CivCraft would run on the various PC system configurations?
Since we are using the Unity game engine, we don’t have any problems with PC systems configurations. Unity game engine is an excellent cross platform game engine and took care of that problem for us.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for CivCraft.
Being a gamer for all those years caused me to set a high standard for CivCraft, but the best thing that me and Arik did when we started developing CivCraft’s art was to ask gamers how they feel about the music, looks and feeling of the game. Since the founding of CivCraft, we’ve changed various graphics, sounds and music for CivCraft because of gamers’ requests, and even added some special artifacts and magic.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
There are many hardships with being an indie developer, one of them is trying to create the best game with limited funds, another is to receive an audience for the game itself. Since our firm is a relatively new firm, we are working full time to make a name for ourselves and our new video game.
How did you go about funding CivCraft and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
We gathered our own funds, and didn’t receive any funds from a third party or a loan. We received very high support from our family and friends, and it only increased over the time, as we showed them new content from CivCraft. They are very excited to see what comes out from our work, and how CivCraft will look like when it’s finished.
Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
Yes, we checked for similar games, and tried to come up with the best possible pricing for CivCraft. We decided that our price will not be high, and will be a single fee, as we’re confident that we’ll make our revenue by the number of people who will buy CivCraft, rather than the amount they pay
Can you tell us why you chose to release a demo for CivCraft?
We wanted to release a demo of CivCraft so that people will experience it before it comes out. Unfortunately, not all parts are connected, and we won’t be able to release a demo in the near future. We will, however, release a game play follow up in a short time.
How important is it to get instant feedback about CivCraft from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
Well, because the users are the ones that will eventually play CivCraft, and not us. We’re trying to make CivCraft as dynamic as possible, and are working hard to make it a true “Sandbox” game, and so we’re interested to receive as many feedbacks as possible so that CivCraft will be as fun as we can make it.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review CivCraft professionally?
It’s very important for us to receive good reviews for CivCraft, and so we’re trying to make it an easy but still interesting game, with as much action as the user wants to have. We value the reviews and hope to get good ones, as it’s the best way to showcase a game and it’s features. Personally, I always check game reviews before buying a game
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
I think that these kind of games are different in the effort it took to develop them. It’s easy to make a simple, “free” game, where you don’t spend time and effort on graphics or designs, but I don’t think it’s a good business plan to publish a well made game for no money. Indie companies have to make money as well, and it’s their consideration on the sum they charge for them. Personally, I contributed for the “pay what you want” games that I liked, since these small amounts of money meant much for the developers.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
I think the PC gaming industry is dealing very well with it, since many pirated games are limited or have viruses in them. Also, many games gives constant updates and support for modding, and a user with a pirated version would constantly need to re-download the versions. I admit that in the old days, when games used to be costly and where only sold in stores, I installed a pirated version or two. But today, a game generally costs less than what you spend on food for one day, and is easier to buy than to spend time and effort on pirated versions. I also think that DRM technology has advanced and didn’t notice any intrusive DRM installed on my computer.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of CivCraft?
We don’t have any problem with that, just as long as it’s not taken out of context.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
DLC are an efficient and effective tool in the gaming industry. Instead of publishing the same game over again with small changes, a publisher may create a DLC that expands the features of a game. I like the DLC concept, since it’s good both for the publisher and the users, and are usually very cheap. Having said that, I check DLC’s very carefully, and don’t like the “horse armor” DLCs, where you pay an excessive amount of money and receive very little from the DLC’s publisher.
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for CivCraft?
One of the first things we did was to develop CivCraft for modding. We believe that a game that was made with support for modding is much more fun to play and have a bigger lifespan, as the community can change the game for themselves and add more features and changes. A good example that we saw was Skyrim, which was published in 2011, but is still played because of the mods and the DLC that are published. We hope that we’ll have a large modding community and that modders will find creative ways to make CivCraft more personal for them.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
My advice for indie developers is to research what technology they need to have to develop the game, to research how much time it would take map the main parts of the game, and to write down how the game will look like and it’s features, well before you start developing it. I think that the indie developer’s game has a good chance to break into the business if they’ll have these parts planned ahead, as it’s easier in our days to publish and promote a game, and easier to build graphics for it as well. Developing games are not easy, though, so a starting developer should prepare himself for working endless hours and spending much time on research.